Mike Boerger has posed for his share of photos presenting The Joe Yoder Agricultural Award to deserving area farmers. But on Thursday, the tables were turned as he accepted the recognition himself from the London Rotary Club.
Boerger and his wife, Pam, were the recipients of the 2017 award during Rotary’s annual Rural Urban Day Breakfast, held at the Madison County Senior Center.
Mike, who has played a pivotal role in planning the breakfast for several years, stepped down from the chair position in 2017. The breakfast event recognizes the partnership of business and agriculture in Madison County.
The award — named after the late Joe Yoder, a former county commissioner, Rotarian and farmer — is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to agriculture in Madison County, worked toward land preservation, used agriculture as their source of livelihood and has a strong reputation in the ag community.
Given each year since Yoder’s death in 2008, the award’s past recipients include Randy Miller, Phil Eades, Bob Sommers, Mike Adkins, Autie Howard, Pete Yoder, Robert Higgins, Roger and Jane Snyder and Johnny and Virginia Davison.
The Boergers tend 1,800 acres of corn and soybeans in the northwest corner of Madison County. Their son, Nick, daughter, Stephanie, and 3-year-old grandson Ethan are all part of this farming family.
Mike grew up on a farm near Plain City. He helped with the family’s livestock and grain operation and participated in 4-H and FFA. He graduated from Morehead State University before starting work at the Ohio Grain Company.
He also started a custom application service before he and Pam purchased their farm “at the edge of nowhere,” as they say, and started a farm operation of their own. Pam’s grandparents were farmers, so she had some idea what she was getting into. She has enjoyed the flexibility that farm life provides, and the opportunity to do something different every day.
“As important as networking and fellowship are to Rotary members, I think we can all learn something about “Service Above Self” from the farming community,” said Rotary president Kelly Snyder. “If someone is sick or having trouble, his fellow farmers are the first to pitch in and get the job done. We hear stories every day about farmers pitching in to get the planting done, or maybe the harvesting, for someone who has gotten sick or become disabled. Mike and Pam have done plenty of that themselves.”
Snyder noted the couple’s community leadership. Mike has served as a Pike Township trustee for 23 years and is the president of the Madison Health Foundation and the Madison County Red Cross Board, and serves on the Friend’s House board.
He served many years on the Madison County Chamber of Commerce board and was selected as the Bell Ringer in 2015.
“They take seriously the responsibility that comes with being leaders,” Snyder said. “They are committed to preserving the land and building a community that their children and grandchildren can be proud of.”
Boerger said he is honored to be included in the same classification as the previous award recipients.
Professor Scott Shearer, chair of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University, served as the keynote speaker.
He spoke about removing humans from agricultural field machinery, specifically, the evolution of tractors made with no cabs, which means no expenses for leather seats, air conditioning or mirrors. Equipment is being operated by laptops and other internet-connected devices.
It also means equipment can be downsized, which reduces the effect of soil compaction.
“The future is a little bit closer than you think it is,” he told the crowd.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.